July 13, 2009

Fish was major part of early human diet

A U.S.-led international team of scientists says it has produced the first direct evidence of substantial fish consumption by early modern humans in China.

Erik Trinkaus, a professor at the University of Washington in St. Louis, said freshwater fish are an important part of the global diet, but it has been unclear when they became an important part of the year-round diet for early humans.

The new research indicates that might have occurred in China about 40,000 years ago. The scientists said an analysis of a bone from one of the earliest modern humans in Asia -- the 40,000-year-old skeleton from Tianyuan Cave near Beijing -- showed that individual was a regular fish consumer. It's the first direct evidence for the substantial consumption of aquatic resources by early modern humans in China, they said.

The study appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.